Rethinking beauty brand models with the help of data

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Rethinking beauty brand models with the help of data

Related tags Advertising

The graphic design software company Canva ran a study earlier this year, considering the conventional appearance and relatability of faces used to advertise cosmetics and personal care products as well as other consumer goods.

The Average Faces of Brand Models project compiled “the most frequently featured faces for numerous widely marketed brands and averaged them together,”​ explains the company’s post about the results.

Canva knew going into the study that a standard beauty ideal exists and is often used to market, well, almost everything. But the researchers seemed to be holding out hope that the results would show that “allure is not the only component of successful aesthetic advertising.”​ And that “relatability is also key.”

While the results are qualitative, a simple combination of images and analysis, Canva notes that the study identified “an interesting general consensus among marketing directors.”

Look alike advertising

For each industry, Canva “took the most frequently featured faces for numerous widely marketed brands and averaged them together,” ​creating a composite of the images based on 10+ advertising photos of both men and women.

In cosmetics and personal care Canva looked at six of what it believed to be the most prevalent brands: CoverGirl, Dior, L’Oréal, Maybelline, Rimmel London, and Proactiv. The study noted very similar features and facial structures. For instance according to the posted results, “high cheekbones and pronounced jawlines were an exceptionally popular choice throughout this specific category, and full, pink lips unfailingly made the beauty brand cut.”

The company also found that models featured in beauty ads are generally youthful and unblemished, explaining that these people’s faces “appeal to those looking for an improvement in personal appearance.”

The beauty of other businesses

Beautiful people showed up in other industries’ advertising as well. The study looked at the faces of models featured in ads for clothing and shoes, the auto industry, electronics, food and beverage, and retail.

Some finding of note: “the faces within the electronics category varied the most, ranging from scruffy men in their 40s to young, fresh-faced blondes;”  ​and in the apparel category “faces that represent shoe brands like Nike and Skechers are geared toward a slightly older audience – still conventionally attractive but not quite as modelesque as the underwear folk.”

The study concludes, not surprisingly that “aesthetics is a major component of advertising (probably the most crucial element of all ads across all forms of media, aside from…radio), and brand models comprehensively represent the companies in a very important way.”  

You can see the Canva composite images in action here​.

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